Friday, December 5, 2014

The Lessons of a Simple Supper

I got home last night to the intoxicating smell of chicken and pastry: my spouse had made an interesting mix of chicken pot pie and soup--by which I mean that the sauce was a bit watery and the crust of bread crumbs was savory but not crisp.

He mentioned that he'd seen our down the street neighbor shopping in the grocery store. He wanted to invite them to dinner, but he wanted me to taste his experiment first. I declared it good, and he picked up the phone. Fifteen minutes later, we were dishing up bowls for us all.

They've been enduring a house renovation for several months. Until recently, they could grill, but now their back yard has had to be dug up to get to the plumbing. They were grateful for a hot meal and ice cubes for tea. I was pleased that I could be spontaneous in this simple act of hospitality and grateful that my spouse had done the cooking.

A few months ago, in this post, I wrote about the concept of "scruffy hospitality": "It put me in mind of this blog post on scruffy hospitality, which encourages us not only to come as we are, but to host as we are. The writer, an Anglican priest, shares his sermon, which has this nugget of wisdom: 'Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together.'"

I wish we had had another pan of pot pie soup, since we gobbled up the first pan. But we had enough for everyone to have a hefty serving plus a bit more. Had I had more lead time, we'd have had a better dessert than the animal crackers that I served.

But the simple meal that we had was good enough--especially since our neighbors were going to eat a frozen pizza that they could heat in the toaster oven. And it was good to share what we had and enjoy good conversation.

I worried briefly about the cleanliness issue. I had vacuumed the night before, and the toilets are clean. But it's been awhile since I dusted, and the bathroom sink did have a smudge of toothpaste, which I only noticed after they left.

My spouse laughed when I pointed it out. He reminded me that our neighbors have been living in a construction zone, so they probably didn't notice our dust.

I want to be the person who invites people to come see how I really live. I must confess to wishing that I really lived a more organized, dust-free life. But I already have so little time to do what's important to me. I will leave the dust be--and try to remember to invite people to dinner more often.

And more important, I will try to remember that dinner doesn't have to be a high-maintenance drama. We can share what we have, and it will be more than enough.

We can share what we have, and it will be more than enough--it's one of the messages of most religious traditions.

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